Founded in 1984, Concord Community Music School is New Hampshire’s largest community music school and among the 30 largest community arts schools nationally. This non-profit school is one of the most successful of its type in the country; nonetheless, careful budgeting was the primary concern. The school occupied a 19th century church and rectory and had run out of room for practice space, recording studios, and recitals. It purchased a neighboring house behind the church to create a through-block parcel.
The owner's initial concept was to build a long rectangular block, two stories, with parking in a new lot along the street front. SMP’s suggestion was to turn the addition lengthwise, with its narrow end toward the residential street. This approach accomplished several things. At its end, the large wing would be appropriately scaled to the residential street. The parking would not be out front like a strip mall. Finally, the long side of the addition would face Fletcher-Murphy Park, a public park.
In turning the face of the new building toward the park, SMP also proposed incorporating a public outdoor performance space to embody the school’s community outreach mission. Fletcher-Murphy Park required extensive clean-up—and no one even knew who Fletcher or Murphy were. Nonetheless, volunteers joined the effort, and, in the course of the cleanup, uncovered a monument which revealed that Fletcher and Murphy were two Army nurses who died in World War One. The press picked this up, and the public response was significant. The bandstand and the revitalized park became the centerpiece of the project.